By Gemma @ Juicygamereviews
Back in 1982 something magical happened. No I'm not talking about the song release of Eye of the Tiger, nor am I talking about the release of Billie Jean by the King of Pop. No. I'm talking about the release of the ZX Spectrum by Sinclair Research Ltd. The personal 8-bit home computer that packed a stonking 16 KB of RAM on the base models. Stonking back then perhaps but by today's standards I can send more than that in an email. The ZX Spectrum was my first experience with a computer and Horrace was my first real protagonist as I gently tried to usher him across the road safely to collect his skies. Needless to say that my five year old self was terrible at it. Fast forward over twenty five years and now I'm able to usher that same weird looking thing across the street to bag a turn on the Ski Slope but this time, I'm using my ZX Spectrum Vega. The Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega was developed by the guys over at Retro Computers and manufactured by SMS Electronics in Nottingham, UK. At a press meet up in July I had a chat with Chris Smith, Chief Technical Designer of the Vega and he informed me that the Vega is an exact scaling down of the original ZX Spectrum by 58% complete with the rubber keys. Okay so the Vega doesn't adopt the full keyboard like the original but it doesn't need it.
It is designed and manufactured in the UK – the home of the original ZX Spectrum revolution. Improves on the original – no more waiting for a game to load via tape. Is rated by PEGI as suitable for all adults and children aged seven and upwards.
Over the past few weeks I've been playing through the mammoth library of games that come pre-loaded on the ZX Spectrum Vega. There are one thousand games ready to play but the SD card slot allows for additional games to be added. To get started, it couldn't be easier. The Zx Spectrum Vega has a USB for power supply and video/audio inputs for the signal.
So what does the Vega play like?
Upon the initial bootup I was surprised at how fast the OS performed. There seemed to be no lag between pressing a button and navigating in to the next menu. Playing through the games felt as equally responsive. I didn't experience any crashes during gameplay and I had played for approximately two hours per session. Some of my personal highlights from the games library were Horace Goes Skiing, Driller Tanks, Galactic Gunners and Xenon.
The games are listed in alphabetical order and each beginning letter has its own page which makes navigating through the library very simple. This seems ironic as I remember the Spectrum being a very difficult computer to play on, mainly due to the tapes crashing, breaking or not loading at all. The ZX Spectrum Vega really demonstrates the finer side of that ear of gaming which made me fall in love with it all over again.
Feeling isn't everything.
The ZX Spectrum vega feels incredibly light weight. Some may mistake this as feeling cheap but I disagree. Whilst I expected the Vega to be slightly larger you have to remember that it's designed to fit in your hand and if it had of been any larger then it wold've been uncomfortable to hold. Ergonomically, it lacks a lot so if you're expecting the comfort of the PS4 controller or an Xbox One controller then think again. The ZX Spectrum Vega became slightly uncomfortable to hold after about an hour of play but this may vary from player to player. It's certainly something to be mindful of. Ergonomics aside the Vega is what it is. It was designed to look exactly like the original therefore packing a powerful punch of nostalgia.
Check out my video of a live build of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega and unboxing videos
The Vega is a remarkable piece of kit and a must own for any fan of the era or of retro gaming in general. Thousands of classic games can be launched through the Vega's hardware, typically without hinderance and not so much as a crashed tape in sight. People have asked me "Gemma why don't you just play your original Speccy. This thing costs £100?" My answer is simple: "I do play my original Speccy but now she has a little sister to lay beside".
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